Rising anxiety in Egypt as anniversary of upheaval nears

Rising anxiety in Egypt as anniversary of upheaval nears

The lead up to Jan. 25, 2012, conjures up mixed signals of both celebration and potential conflict. In awe at almost surviving a full year of revolution, Egyptians are not sure what to expect, as anxiety continues to build up. The few weeks ahead of the first anniversary of the Egypt revolution might be strewn with flowers full of thorns. But one thing is certain: Much of the process severely contended throughout the year will be coming to some major confrontations.

For one thing, the third round of parliamentary elections has yet to conclude this week. Obviously no one is expecting any major surprises in the results from the overwhelming majority for political Islam secured in the first two rounds of elections. A first for Egypt, it creates much public and media debate and controversy on what to expect when Parliament convenes on Jan. 23, a mere two days before the anniversary of the revolution. Balancing the political power in Egypt seems to be going through a difficult birth. Parliament will only relieve the ruling military council from part of its political power. Until presidential elections and a constitution are in place, the military will preside over the scene.

As the first democratically elected body after the revolution, eyes will be on every move of the majority. There is heightening fear, especially among the more moderate and liberal parts of the population, of how the power sharing agreements will affect personal freedoms and eventually more critical issues of education, culture and media. Speculation aside, in a few weeks, indications of intentions and possible agreements will become more apparent to the public eye.

That leaves the basic ingredient of the revolution, its young persistent and highly driven youth. Very few made it to Parliament; the rest remain on the squares and streets. Institutional change could have been enough for the street revolution to discontinue. Unfortunately, the revolutionary demands are far from being delivered. In a whole year the very few concessions given seemed to always follow serious demonstration pressure. The brutality and unprecedented violence that rendered so many dead and disabled make it difficult for any agreements to happen.

The revolution will continue in parallel until its demands are met. Initiatives to broker a balanced and acceptable relationship between this triad have been severely challenged. There are no indications that the revolution will subside. New initiatives to evolve it into a serious pressure and institutional accountability tool are emerging. Calls for filling up the squares and streets on Jan. 25 have already started.

It is assured there will not be one dull moment in the weeks leading up to what is expected to be a memorable day with a full bouquet. The new year kicked off with a moving celebration and candle vigil in the main Tahrir Square in Cairo. It was well attended despite the cold and signaled a first ever public celebration of the new year for Egypt. It demonstrated peace, unity and pride for the thousands who chanted with a nearby church choir and the many more who watched on the screens with renewed hope for a better year.